SUSE Looks to Extend Reach of Rancher Platform

SUSE has updated its Rancher management platform for Kubernetes to make it simpler to extend the user interface to manage other elements of a cloud-native application environment.

Peter Smails, general manager of enterprise container management at SUSE, said Rancher 2.7.2 lays the foundation for extending the reach of Rancher to streamline the management of Kubernetes environments by decoupling the user interface from the core management platform.

The overall goal is to foster a stronger Rancher ecosystem, he added. SUSE technology partners will, for example, be able to create extensions to Rancher that manage a complete cloud-native environment.

In addition, SUSE is making available several extensions to make it simpler to connect open source projects such as Harvester, a hyperconverged platform, and Kubewarden, a policy-as-code engine, in addition to operating systems and edge computing platforms via a common user interface.

SUSE has also made those extensions available via its Rancher Prime subscription service along with policy and operating system management tools. Subscribers also gain access to the company’s customer engagement platform, dubbed SUSE Collective, through which it provides access to reference architectures and documentation. Finally, SUSE has also relaunched Rancher Academy, a free online training portal.

In general, the processes that IT organizations are employing to manage Kubernetes environments are maturing now that more cloud-native application workloads are being deployed in production environments, noted Smails. In many instances, organizations are routinely managing cloud-native applications spanning multiple cloud computing environments, he added. The Rancher platform makes it simpler to manage those workloads at that level of scale, said Smails.

In total, there are now more than 45,000 active users of Rancher. Those users are moving well beyond simply managing one or two Kubernetes clusters by employing Rancher as a centralized console, he added.

In general, it’s still early days as far as the management of Kubernetes environments is concerned. It has become a lot simpler to manage individual clusters. The challenge is that the software deployed on top of a Kubernetes cluster is often as or more difficult to provision, secure and maintain as the cluster itself. SUSE is betting that as the need for a control plane to unify the management of Kubernetes environments becomes more apparent, the number of organizations adopting Rancher will increase.

Each IT organization will need to determine which Kubernetes control plane best suits their needs, but as the number of clusters being deployed steadily increases, there is a clear need to make Kubernetes more accessible to IT administrators. There are simply not enough DevOps professionals available to manage every Kubernetes cluster that might be deployed from the network edge to the cloud.

One way or another, the management of Kubernetes clusters—along with all the software deployed on it—is entering a new phase. Just about every enterprise IT organization has some experience managing Kubernetes clusters, but managing fleets of Kubernetes clusters requires a whole other level of expertise. Today, that expertise remains both challenging to find and retain, even as more cloud-native applications are being built and deployed.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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